In a marshy Florida fort a couple of miles north of Saint Augustine, for up to 120 years before Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the inception of the Thirteenth Amendment, African-Americans had been living free. The community was called Fort Mose - a beacon of progressivism in Colonial America. Spain, which ruled Florida at the time, established Fort Mose as a sanctuary for escaped slaves from British Carolina, making it America's first legally sanctioned, free black community.
It is a little-known piece of American history, discovered by archaeologists only in the mid-1980s. In the short time since then, the Fort Mose site has inspired a book and an exhibition, "Colonial America's Black Fortress of Freedom," which opened this month at Delray’s Spady Cultural Heritage Museum. Running through July 29, this exhibition features paintings, drawings, renderings, and three-dimensional displays inspired by the discovery of Fort Mose while illustrating life in the pioneering community.
Admission is $5, and the museum is at 170 NW Fifth Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-279-8883, or visit spadymuseum.org.
Wed., May 9, 2012